Tag Archives: depression

How to Win Against and Be Free From Your Worst Enemy: Your Inner Critic. Part II

Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of criminalatt at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Howdy Folks

Hope you all had a great weekend and had fun celebrating Mother’s Day with your lovely Mamas. I know I had a wonderful time with mine. 🙂

In part one of this series, I talked about how I was able to shut down my inner critic by identifying the fears giving my saboteur the ammo it needed to tear me down and keep me down. To quickly recap, the first two fears were fear of disappointing my parents and fear of rejection.

Today, I want to talk about the next fear supplying my inner critic: fear of others perceiving me as a failure. I’m taking time to talk about these fears because they are the root causes of most of the negativity in life.

By shifting the focus of our minds away from our fears and their illusions, we can adopt more self-affirming mindsets, ones that will help us move forward to achieving our goals, dreams, and ultimately, the visions we have for our lives.

3. Fear of others perceiving me as failure.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I never liked being the sort of person who cared heavily about what others thought of her, but growing up, I was taught to be mindful of how others perceived me and making sure people had a highly favorable view of me in terms of my academics, manners, attitude, and work ethic.

It’s one of the reasons why I place a very high value on kindness. I easily fall for kind people. No, seriously. If you’re a kind person, I will love you. Guaranteed. Notice I said kind, not nice. Nice people scare me because I can’t shake off that they’re hiding some sinister secret or plan to hurt me some in way. But that’s another topic for next time.

Also, I can’t stand rudeness, and being around rude people makes me physically sick. It’s obvious in the lines on my forehead and the way my nose twitches as if I’ve just smelled rotten eggs and the way I blink repeatedly. If you’re a rude person, you’ll most likely never see me unless you change. If I sorta like you, I’ll let you know whether something you did was rude. If I don’t like you at all and you make an ass of yourself, I’ll just quickly make my exit because you should know better, especially if you’re an adult.

I’m also big on manners and proper etiquette for dining, meeting new people, working, navigating public spaces, and so on. I’m more relaxed when I’m around family and close friends, but I can be a bit of stiff and standoffish around strangers. That’s just part of my character as an introvert who needs to know a person better before trusting her or him or them. But I’m hoping I can learn to be more open to new people. Again, that’s another topic.

Now, all of this seems harmless and common sense even. Don’t be rude. Be kind. Work hard. Choose peace, not violence. However, as a kid growing up with very high expectations from family to succeed academically and career-wise, I warped this thinking into an incredibly unhealthy level.

I didn’t just want people to perceive me as good kid, but rather as the kid who was perfect in every way.

Photo cred: RYAN MCGUIRE
Photo cred: Ryan McGuire

Trying my hardest to be this perfect kid throughout middle, high school, and most of college really hurt me in emotional and mental ways, possibly triggering my depression and occasional thoughts of suicide. If people saw me as a failure, then, in my head, I wasn’t worthy in any way.

This fear of others perceiving me as a failure created an onslaught of negative images, thoughts, and dialogues in my mind; these destructive thoughts crippled me most of the time and made me feel worthless from time to time. These feelings of worthlessness stopped me from performing at my best and stunted my spiritual and emotional growth.

The truth was that my worth was not tied to how well I performed academically or professionally, or how well I pleased people with my behavior. Worth comes from within not from without. Until I realized my worth and the worth of my dreams and vision for my life, then I wouldn’t be free from the hell of living for other people’s approval. That was not how I wanted to live my one life here on this Earth.

So, in the face of all my failures trying to get my book published, not getting that high paying job I thought my impressive educational credentials would bring, and not getting into the PhD program I so desperately wanted, I’ve decided to keep fighting. To never give up working to achieve my dreams for a more stable, but predictable life or give in to the lies of my fears and my inner critic.

I absolutely refuse to follow a script prepared for me. I cannot. I have to go where I believe my instincts want me to go. It makes for a rather difficult, but satisfying life. Of course I have regrets, but I’m still pretty young and want to focus on moving forward. The process is where I want to be, not the past, and not even the future. This moment right now is what matters the most, writing this article and revealing one of my deepest fears.

I don’t believe I was put on this earth to blindly follow instructions made from another or from a previous time. I believe I have to create my own instructions with ingredients borrowed from my parents, siblings, extended family, friends, experiences, teachers, books, religions, philosophies, and even strangers I have met along the way.

Cause in the end, I'm just a bunny following her heart. Photo cred: Ryan McGuire
Cause in the end, I’m just a bunny following her heart. Photo cred: Ryan McGuire

This is how I live.

How about you? Have you ever had to deal with the fear of other people’s perceptions? Don’t be afraid and go ahead and share. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you found this article interesting or helpful, please share it with your family and friends!

Also, be sure to look out for my new e-book coming out soon: The Passionate Dreamer’s Notebook: For Those Who Refuse to Quit!

Be Better and Live Better: #1 Stop Making Plans You Won’t Keep

You finish having a wonderful chat with a long lost friend, and she suggests you both meet up for coffee or tea. Feeling kind, you say yes and set up a date. The date of your appointment arrives and you don’t think you can commit to your promise. A ton of work comes up to swamp you, other social obligations call, or you work it over in your mind that you really don’t want to see this person after all. Feeling shitty, you cancel on her. But she’s not the only person you’ve cancelled on for one reason or another. You find yourself doing this to people over again and again and again. You are a chronic plan-breaker.

via http://www.someecards.com

I am a chronic plan-breaker, and it makes me feel like the lowest scum on the earth when I have to make up an excuse for why I can’t make this or that appointment. This is more than just being a heartless jerk, however. With some deep digging, I’ve come to realize the real reasons why I keep making plans and then breaking them:

 

1. I like to say yes to please people.

Whenever a friend or anyone else asks me to do something, I instantly jump in and reply with a yes. I don’t think things through honestly in terms of my availability or mood. I receive pleasure from making people feel good so I try to do so whenever I can.

OMAHGOSH, LET’S DO IT! via http://www.newgrounds.com

However, this dangerous habit of saying yes is hurtful and disrespectful to people. I want to live by the mantra of doing no harm to anyone, but I fail in this regard when I use people to give myself a small boost of happiness to cover up real dark issues concerning my mental state.

2. I act with my emotions and not my head.

I’m a very emotional person and if I’m not careful, I find myself acting according to my emotions and not my head. This reflects immaturity on my part and a low mental state. I get angrily easily, fall in love too quickly, get too excited and enthusiastic about good things, and feel other people’s pain and sadness too broadly.

My emotions drive my mind crazy

It’s not that I’m not supposed to feel. Of course not. However, when my emotions get in the way of being a better person or end up hurting or disrespecting others, I need to keep them under control.

3. My mood constantly changes

I’m pretty much convinced I suffer from cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder with low-grade high periods (mania) and fleeting periods (less than two weeks) of depression as seen in a major depressive episode (WebMd).

via insta20.com

One week I’m happy and invincible, the next I’m depressed and suicidal, and so on like some terrible cycle. When I’m in my hypomania days, I love making as much plans as possible because I want to feel even better about making other people feel good. However, if my appointments fall on days when I’m depressed and unmotivated, I don’t want to go out. As a result, I cancel my plans because I’d much rather be alone. Sometimes the thought of being with other people on these days makes me want to roll in a ball under my covers and never come out. If my dates fall on days when I’m upbeat and feeling like I can take over the world, I keep my appointments. Therefore, I cancel and keep my plans according to my mood. Not good.

Whenever you find yourself doing things you’re not proud of, it helps to take some time to think through exactly why you’re behaving this way instead of telling yourself not to do it. Unless you dig deeper into yourself and get to the root of the problem, you’ll eventually keep repeating this awful or hurtful habit. You’ll then end up feeling pretty shitty about yourself and reinforce negative thinking, which makes life miserable. The goal is to be a better person so you can live a better life and make the world a better place overall for everybody else.

So, what can we do about our awful plan-breaking habit since now that we know its root causes?

Here are three things we can do to help us stop making plans we won’t keep.

1. Don’t instantly answer questions about making plans.

This should be a simple one, but with instant messaging and impatience flying around everywhere, it can be easy to respond quickly because we believe that’s what’s expected of us: to act fast. However, resist the urge.

If you’re making plans through text messaging, you can pause to check your calendar and check your motivation. If you’re on the phone or talking to someone in person, be honest and tell them you’ll let them know within a day or two. Also, make sure you do let them know; don’t just leave things up in the air because doing so is rude and disrespectful.

2. Ask yourself these two questions.

First, can you do this? Make sure nothing within your control will come up to interfere like work or domestic duties. Don’t underestimate your workload or overestimate your ability to get things done. Again, be honest with yourself.

Second, do you really want to do this? Check to see if your heart is in it. If you’re feeling half-hearted about the plans, don’t make them because eventually you’ll not want to follow through. You’ll feel like you’ve been asked to climb Mt. Everest. Just honestly tell the person you don’t feel like doing this or that. A simple, “Thanks for the invite, but I’m good or I’ll pass.” Or “I’m good but let’s do something else next time.”

Doing so will give the other person a chance to better know your likes and dislikes and to stop inviting you or making plans for things you’re not interested in.

However, if you’re feeling genuinely and fully committed to the plans, then go ahead and make them.

Now this can be a tricky one for someone like me who suffers from a mood disorder. As I said before, I can feel totally excited and motivated about making plans, and then feel like death when the times comes to following through with them. To get around this, I need to follow rule number one: Don’t act quickly and let my hypomania die down until I’m levelheaded.

If my plans do fall on a day when I’m experiencing depression, I need to be out of the house at least a few hours or more before the meeting time. During a depressive episode, I find it’s a lot harder to leave my room an hour or so before an appointment. Instead, I can be at the park, library, or a café getting some writing done on my laptop before it’s time to meet whomever.

3. Remember the awful feelings you felt and inflicted when you broke previous plans.

Don’t neglect one of the most important functions of the mind: memory. Use your memories to help you become a better person. When you broke plans with a loved one, someone important, a new friend or date, you felt bad because you’re a human being. You also hurt the person on the receiving end of your negligent actions. You don’t want to repeat feeling these negative emotions or cause pain to someone else.

And that’s it! We’ll find that with some people, it’s easier to meet them or keep promises to them as opposed to others.

The key thing is we want to become people who keep their word. Since we’re all adults here and everything.

How about you? How do you stop making plans you don’t plan to keep? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, please share it on facebook, twitter, or wherever! Thanks in advance!

How to Find the Light in the Persistent Darkness of Your Soul

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m a dark person. It’s not that I’m depressed or mostly negative. I’m simply dark. I don’t like to smile a lot. I think too deeply about things. My mind finds comfort in getting wrapped around my untold stories. The sadness and pain of this world deeply pierces my soul and thinking. I’m the kind of person who dislikes being told to be happy or to smile. I live in a reality shrouded in darkness, but I’m not unhappy. I’m actually quite hopeful and optimistic. I believe in miracles and magic. I trust love prevails over all things.

I don’t like connecting with everyone I meet. It takes energy. Sometimes too much for me to handle. I take solace and pleasure in time spent alone. Being with people for far too long drains me unlike anything I know. I’m a loner. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. This doesn’t mean I don’t want and need human contact. I do. Just not all the time. If I want to function for the next several days, I need to have my alone time.

Explaining this darkness to myself has never been easy, so I feel it’s almost impossible to explain it here without sounding like I’m suffering from sort of severe depression. I’m not. However, in this dark world of mine, it’s necessary to find some light because I do stand on a thin line where I can teeter into soul-sucking, depression-filled darkness. To stop myself from overstepping that boundary, I search for the light inside my persistent darkness.

But finding the light takes work.

The first thing I do is talk kindly to myself.

I tell myself a lot of self-affirming statements to keep exaggerated negativity at bay. I tell my self I’m strong, I’m powerful, I’m incredible, I’m amazing. I can achieve anything I conceive in my mind. I just need to act. And not be afraid of the results.

The result isn’t the most important thing. The process is.

Focusing on the process helps a lot. I focus on the joy and bliss that comes from creating words. I dive in the pleasure that comes from making people do what I desire. My mind explodes with energy from this creative process. Energy from my creative spirit.

Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I tap into the light of my creative spirit.

This light keeps me from sinking into the bad darkness, the darkness that rips souls apart and infests the mind with hope-eating bacteria. The darkness that makes death beautiful, appealing, and even necessary. The light from the creative spirit chases away the bad darkness and provides the oil for burning my passion for one more day. For one more month. For one more lifetime.

I create even when I don’t want to.

Sometimes I don’t want to create anything in the physical world. I don’t want to write because the darkness is too deep. I prefer to create in my mind. The worlds arise and people move inside these worlds, talking, walking, alive within a story. It’s perfect in my mind, and I want to stay up there. Sometimes for a long time. But the mind is not enough. The real world is waiting on the outside. I need to bring the mind and reality together, and that takes work.

So I create even when I don’t want to. I start and once I do, everything comes together.

Revel in the creation.

I love what I create even when I know it stills needs work. I revel in what I’ve brought forth with my mind. Nothing makes me feel more human. More alive then knowing my work is talking, interacting, making decisions, dreaming, experiencing failure and lost, and healing from wounds.

Remember, it’s okay to feel.

One thing I tell myself to do is to feel whatever dark emotions are swirling inside me. I let them run their course. I don’t suppress them. It’s when they’re out in the open that I can attack them, deconstruct them, minimize them, and make them as insignificant as dust. And then, I blow them away and keep on going.

1779097_762126683825304_340084144445753404_n

I am what I think in my mind.

The future isn’t far off. The future is now. I am now. The most important thing to remember is the present moment is everything. Whatever I say I am in my mind is who I am. I am alive. I am incredible. I am powerful. I am capable of being healed. I am capable of healing others. I am learning, growing, and becoming a better version of me because I want to. I am who I say I am.

How do you find the light in your darkness? Would love to hear your thoughts.

If you enjoyed or found this article helpful, please share it. Thanks in advance!

Forget What You Heard

Be reborn

Forget What You Heard

They handed me a picture

And I looked at it and frowned

My heart dropped so fast

Thoughts running around

‘Bout this girl and her hair,

Falling down her shoulders

With her eyes so big

And her smile so bright,

You’d think they would’ve known her

But they never do

That’s just how they do it in Oz

No pause

To hear

To see

To feel

‘Cause they do it like they want to

Taking everything from you

They talk like they’re blind

But these sharpshooters

They always aim so high

With their targets on your back

Before they pull the trigger, you better figure

Are you slave, are you fighter

Are you sleeping, are you sowing

‘Cause she knew who she was

A girl in a costume, ‘bout ready to lose her mind

Straddling three to four worlds, no peace in them to find

That hair was not a crown, but the mark of the beast

With 66 names, one name for each stab

That they left up on her back

They walked all around her, walking on by

On the day that she died, alone on the ground

Murdered by the insight of the darkness within

Cornered by their dogma that had finally closed in

Killing whatever heaven she wished she could’ve built

So I’m telling you now, forget what you heard

You don’t know the story

If you got it from them

These lies don’t make it better

These secrets are what had killed her

This girl in this picture with the note on the back

“Born in ‘87, Dead at 27.”

How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part II

Why is nothing going right? Sigh…

In my first post, I shared four things I do to keep writing and motivated in the midst of deep discouragement. We don’t choose the challenges that come our way, sometimes we do, but oftentimes we don’t. I learned a long time ago how letting the darkness weigh me down served no purpose other than to stop me from creating, and thus, living. Creating is my life; it’s how I interact with the world, make sense of it, navigate it, and survive, and ultimately thrive in it. Without the process of creation, I have nothing. I feel I am nothing. I am blind, deaf, mute, and brain dead. In other words, no better than a corpse. So whenever discouragement rears its ugly head to stop me from creating, I need to get over it ASAP. I need to keep going and I do so this way:

5. Come up with a plan that addresses my mistakes and creates solutions to be better

As I said before in my last post, sometimes I fall short of attaining my goals, and when I do, I try not to beat myself up over it. I reduce the whole guilt factor to prevent me from giving up on making goals altogether. Aside from not being too hard on myself, I create a plan to address the reasons why I failed to achieve specific goals. I’m basically learning from my mistakes in order to not repeat them the next time around. I attack my mistakes head on and create an appropriate fix for each of them. Whenever I feel myself sliding back into those same mistakes, I take a look at my solutions list, and it keeps me on track to getting things accomplished. Again, I use Evernote to get all of this done.

I can do anything I set my mind to! What? What’re you looking at?

6. Speak power to my life every day and repeat how I will achieve my goals and vision for my life

It’s time to get spiritual right now. The right actions are important, but without the right mindset, those actions won’t manifest. Every day I make sure to remind myself of the power I have in changing my life and making my dreams come true. I have a saying written on a board in my room. It says, “Whatever I can conceive in my mind, I will achieve. I am powerful. My mind is chaos.”

Conceive it; achieve it.
Conceive it; achieve it.

You’re probably getting all the lines except the last one about my mind being chaos. The thing is I need to have my mind untethered to the cold logical thinking part of my brain that says I can’t do this or that because I don’t have this or that. Saying my mind is chaos disconnects me from that restrictive, logical thinking that usually keeps people in mediocrity or in safe, unimaginative spaces. I want my mind to inhabit dangerous, wildly creative spaces.

7. Actively forget the past and the pain it carries.

Like every other human on this planet, I have past hurts, mistakes, failures, and disappointments. I used to dwell on all these low points in my past, and I kept trying to figure out how different my life would turn if I did this or that. Bad move. Thinking on past regrets is probably the most useless activity you could ever do. Seriously. It wastes time, depresses you, and keeps you away from the present. Anything that keeps you away from living in the present moment is worth abandoning. The present is all we’ve got before we say our adieus. My worth isn’t tied to who I was or what I did in the past. I recreate myself today and with each new day that follows.

8. Enjoy the process.

At the end of the day, when all is quiet in the dead of the night, the worlds I create with my writing all come down to this one feeling: joy. In the deepest caverns in my heart, I truly enjoy writing, and I sometimes need to actively remind myself of this fact. I enjoy beginnings and ends, but the middle is where it’s all at, where the magic is at its strongest. I can’t forget it even when I feel like crying all day or want to keep walking past my apartment building to someplace far away. Shutting out my external environment, I find beauty and joy in the creative process. This is where I live. In the process of creation.

How about you? How do stay motivated to do what you love in the midst of discouragement. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you enjoyed this article, please spread the love and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, or any other social media platform. Thanks in advance!

Check out:  How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part I

How I Write and Keep Motivated in the Face of Deep Discouragement: Part I

I feel you, Kitty. I feel you.

Sometimes I’m shocked at how much I’m able to create or write in the midst of all the crap I have to deal with it internally and externally: loneliness, family pressures, unfulfilling job, agent rejections, financial instability, depression, etc. I can’t count the number of times I’ve contemplated suicide or wanted to run away as far as possible from my life here in Boston. Or just give up on living abundantly and resign myself to the 9-5 slog of zombie walking. But I don’t. I don’t stop writing. I don’t stop creating. I never stop hoping for something more than the life I’m living. I keep going, sometimes even without motivation. Without discipline. Without anything. I keep going. How? I’m going to share with you four of the things I do to write and keep creating in the face of deep discouragement. In part two, which I will post soon, I’ll share the next four things that I do.

Getting things done like a boss.

1.) Write down goals for each week, month, and next six months, and follow the progress of these goals.

One of the ways that I make it through life when it feels like a total slump is to write down my goals for the week, month, and the next six months. Looking at my goals every days fuels my day with purpose and moves me to get things done even when I don’t feel like it. Writing down goals drags me out of the la la land of dreams toward reality. I love dreaming, but I don’t want to live in my dreams forever. I want to experience the reality of them coming true, and that happens with making goals that I work hard to achieve every day. Next, I always follow the progress of said goals to see how far I’ve come or how behind I am. Doing so makes me have an active relationship with my goals. They’re not simply words I write down and forget the next day. It doesn’t help to approach goal setting in a superficial, hollow manner. That’s why I use apps like Evernote to help organize my goals and progress so I can access them anywhere.

2.) Meditate every day for at least twenty minutes.

The second reason why I don’t burn my eyebrows off or have what should be my millionth nervous break down is meditation. I can’t stress enough how important meditation is to keeping sane. Those twenty minutes or more of silence, of getting away from the world and technology, just refreshes your batteries to take on whatever comes next. And there’s really no right way to meditate. You just need to sit still; you don’t need to do anything fancy like curl your fingers or cross your feet.

Now that’s my type of meditation. Via betterdoctor.com

And don’t worry if you start thinking about a bunch of things. Let your mind do its thing. When you’re ready, focus on one idea or focus on the darkness when you close your eyes. Listen to your breathing. Breathe deeply. Listen to one of the hundreds of meditation tunes on YouTube while you meditate to help set the mood. I personally love listening to traditional Native American songs while I meditate. I just fly away and forget everything. It’s perfect. I can’t go a day without mediation.

3.) Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude goes hand in hand with my meditation. I always start my meditation by listing all the things that I’m grateful for. This exercise helps me put things in perspective. Instead of complaining of things I don’t have, I focus on the things I do have, and this chases away negative feelings that would otherwise occupy my mind. In the grand scheme of things, I’m quite blessed: I have a job, a warm place to live during this terrible winter, meals to eat, a loving family, and the function of my limbs and senses. That’s a lot more than a whole lot of people in the world. Practicing gratitude keeps me moving forward without steam.

4.) Don’t be too hard on myself if I fall short of my goals

I don’t always achieve all the weekly or monthly goals I set for myself. When I fall short on making something happen, I choose not to be too hard on myself because that can easily spiral into a vortex of negative thinking. Once caught in that vortex, I may not want to set goals again in order to avoid the awful feelings associated with failing. One of the worst things you can do is fear failure because it stops you from taking action, especially the kind of risky action that can give large returns. Instead of focusing on the things I didn’t achieve, I take stock of what I’ve succeeded in doing. This gives me a much-needed boost to keep going and get to the things I failed to achieve.

I used to think life was this terrible, sadistic monster that tried to trip me up any chance it got. But that picture of life was all wrong. There was nothing out there trying to destroy me or make me feel miserable. It was all in my head. Life is what I make it. Today, I’d like to think life responds to my mindset and actions. I’d like to believe life is something beautiful and I need to flow with it, not against it. I don’t need to fight, I need to create more than anything.

What about you? What are some things you do keep yourself creating or doing what you love in the face of discouragement? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

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From College to Today: How I Fought and Won Against Self-Doubt, Disappointment, and Negativity. Part III

My Stop!
My Stop!

I jumped into life in New York with my eyes closed and my faith and confidence level high. I relished the beauty of the present and looked forward to the promise of the future. Every day was new and guaranteed surprises and laughter.

I exuded a great beam of light wherever I went. My friends would sometimes comment on how my eyes shone bright or how I gave off a glow. The joy swelling in my chest simply overflowed.

My love for my new friends and desire to meet new people knew no boundaries. I sought them and made plans, something I hardly ever did back in Boston. I went out with friends for dinners, movies, Broadway shows, rooftop parties, social justice events, intimate gatherings, and seminars with keynote speakers. I experienced fun study sessions that lasted until 4 in the morning, bonding with my study buddies. I wanted people to be joyful and safe around me. My bubble was a no-judgment zone full acceptance and love.

And yet, despite all this positive energy, negativity held on to a portion of my mind, opening it up to fears of rejection and emotional pain. I knew I suffered from depression but dragged my feet on seeing a therapist. As a Haitian American, it wasn’t part of my culture growing up to seek mental health services. Praying was our therapy.

But sometimes prayer honestly isn’t enough and one needs physical medical attention or assistance.

My depression wasn’t crippling enough to stop me from attending classes and functioning in day-to-day activities. Therefore, I didn’t think it was necessary to seek help. I thought I could handle the pain myself and overcome the pressure behind my eyes, the creeping thoughts of loneliness, and occasional aches from unexplained sadness. I couldn’t visualize speaking to a person about my problems so I would write down my thoughts in a journal instead.

It helped to be surrounded by a group of caring, wonderful people. Most of the time I wasn’t even aware of my negativity, only when I was alone. And then one day I had an interesting exchange of text messages with a very good friend, someone I would eventually fall in love with. She was a Buddhist and exposed me to Buddhist philosophy and teachings. I’ll never forget an analogy of life she gave me.

vis www.vizant.com
via http://www.vizant.com

She told me to imagine my mind as a tall building. If I wanted to turn all the lights in each floor, it would take a lot of time and effort. But if I brought out the sun, then the whole building would be illuminated all at once. She told me to bring out the sun. Back then I wasn’t exactly sure how to do that, but her words comforted me and helped pull me further out of my quicksand of negativity. She led me to become more aware of my thoughts and feelings, and to catch negativity at its root.

Little did she know, she was saving my life and shifting it towards a new, liberating direction. I would take this new perspective with me to my next destination after New York.

My graduation from Columbia was bittersweet. I knew I would miss my friends, the City, the great food, and the simple joy of walking down Riverside and Central Park. But I had to move on.

I made the wild decision of leaving the U.S. and spending a year in another country with a completely different culture.

I was going to Seoul, South Korea.

Oh Korea!
Oh Korea!

To be continued…

How about you? I’m sure we all have met someone how has helped change our lives for the better. How has that person helped you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy

If you enjoyed reading this article, please spread the love and share it! Thanks in advance!

From College to Today: How I Fought and Won against Self-Doubt, Disappointment, and Negativity. Part I

Life stopped holding my hand when I turned twelve. I developed antagonistic feelings toward life and decided it was an enemy I needed to conquer. I moved from a predominately Black and Hispanic urban Catholic school to a predominately white public school in a suburb of Boston. I started the eighth grade in this new middle school with great excitement and anticipation, but my excitement turned to dust in my mouth after the first several weeks.

I felt isolated, different, and incredibly unhappy. I missed my old friends and making new friends was harder than I thought. Sometimes, I locked myself in a bathroom stall to cry or find some escape from my present reality. I despised my situation and cursed life for it, unable to find the kernels of joys placed all around me. I saw only demons dancing in hell, pointing at my sadness and laughing at my supposed helplessness.

The years moved along and I went to the high school of that same town. High school was only slightly better and I longed to reach the end. I graduated sixth in my class of about 200 students with honors and scholarships. Tufts University was my destination.

This was a good school.

College was hell. And this surprised me because I had hoped it would be worlds better than high school. I couldn’t believe it turned out to be worse than my childhood nightmares.

I blamed myself because I was painfully shy and more self-isolating than I was in high school. I suffered from a bad form of introversion. The result? I experienced the minimum of college life and my social circle never reached beyond 3 members. And forget romantic interests. A unicorn had a higher chance of existence than my love life. I didn’t think I was desirable in any way so I never took a chance to step out or reach out.

However, I was supremely thankful to the handful of people who chose to hang out and talk with me, especially since I was convinced that I wasn’t as interesting or captivating as my fellow classmates. I made little impact at Tufts and it took a lot of work to scrape off that big piece of profound regret from my mind.

Writing was my savior during that time. I majored in English. And then majored in Biology because my parents and I already decided that I would become a doctor when I was in middle school. When you’re the child of Haitian parents, you have three career paths to choose from: doctor, nurse, or lawyer.

The sciences at Tufts kicked my ass and dragged me down into the worst depression of my life. I would fail again and again in my exams. Insecurities chained my every limb, self-hatred multiplied, and negativity was my home and prison. I saw no way out, so I contemplated suicide often, especially during my third year. It was on my mind every day. But my faith in God stopped me from going through with it. I found solace in the Bible and in the love I felt from Jesus. I never sought a therapist, which was one of my biggest mistakes. I probably would have been able to unpack a whole lot of stuff weighing me down.

College graduation came, and it was the happiest day of my life because I was finally leaving hell. I had mustered enough courage to tell my parents that I no longer desired to be a doctor and that I wanted to study education. Best part: I had been accepted to a Masters Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. I was going to live in New York freaking City. I floated higher than I ever thought possible and let a roaring loud wave of relief, excitement, and happiness wash over me.

My two years living in New York would be the best two years of my life.

teachers college
Teachers College, Columbia University

To be continued…

Stay Amazing,

Sammy

Untitled 1

I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to write about. I have an idea but it eludes me like everything else in my life. Love. Friends. Success. Happiness. I know the power to change my life lies within me, but sometimes it’s really hard and I simply want to give up. And by giving up, I mean just throwing myself into the Charles River and sinking to the bottom of it with rocks in my pockets. Who killed herself this way? Virginia Wolf, right? I’m just kidding, of course. I love life too much to do that. God, what I would give to get a plane ticket to San Diego so I could live there. Forever. My heart is no longer in Massachusetts. It has rocketed itself someplace else so I walk around heartless, searching for my heart. I search for it but I know where it is. I left it in San Diego when I went to go visit my cousin last month. I physically returned to Boston, but my heart stayed behind and now I feel broken, off balance, a zombie to be truthful.

I just want to press the reset button on my life but I don’t believe I can do it here. I’ve been thinking so much about leaving, but I don’t. My mother still keeps me here. How much do wings costs? I need a pair to get me where I need to go. I’m trying hard to keep positive. To work hard towards my goals. To focus my mind on useful things. Everything is meaningless. Just like the wise writer in Ecclesiastes said. Meaningless! A chasing after the wind. With nothing new under the sun. Meaningless wraps my life, my soul, my everyday. I can’t seem to shake it off. My brain is a scattered mess. There is no peace for this writer. I don’t believe in God anymore so I can’t turn to Him, and this fact saddens me. I can’t even pretend properly. I just feel emptiness. The void. I look into the void and it stares right back at me, consuming me in its chant of meaningless. A low, imperceptible hum that only the soul can hear.

I peel layers off of my mind to unveil my true self, but it scares me so I put the walls back up all around this disturbing core. Life never offers you the answers. You have to put forth all the energy and work to make solutions. Whatever part of my brain was destined to create solutions doesn’t work. I haven’t been able to come up with anything to battle this black hole sucking my soul away. It’s on my back so I don’t have to see it, but I know it’s there. I can feel it grow claws that clamp unto my skin, fragile and melting to a pool at my feet. My skin falls off everyday and I gather it with both hands to put it back on, but I never get it right.

Stay amazing,

Sammy

Busan, Korea
Busan, Korea

When Everything Goes Wrong

2014 hasn’t been kind to me so far, which bites because 2013 wasn’t a blast either. I’ve been on a failing streak with one setback rolling in right after the other. Just when I think life has decided to give me a shiny gold coin, it pulls it right out of my reach before I can take it. Lucy would’ve been proud. And of course like any normal human being, I’ve buckled under the pressure, cursed the gods, and experience internal torment. Thankfully it’s not my style to stay broken and buried. Even if I have to claw my way out of this grimy pit, I will get out. Strangely enough misery motivates me to change whatever hasn’t been working.

First thing I did was get a haircut. I have this strange ritual where I cut my hair as some sort of external display of rebirth. I look in the mirror and see the new look, thinking about how I’m going to change. But that’s just 1% of the work needed to transform my situation. Usually my gut reaction to my problems is to leave the country. Runaway and teach English in some far off country where I don’t have to think or deal with any of the demons back home. Sadly, I’ve grown practical and can’t bring myself to do such a thing. Running away won’t help because my problems will follow me wherever I go. They live in my head, which last I check isn’t detachable. So what do I do?

Create opportunities. Work harder on my craft. Remember that the bad times won’t last forever. Be a better person to my loved ones and the people around me. Exercise regularly. Eat better. Get help in the form of a therapist. I’m pretty sure I’m holding my breath underwater and it won’t be long before I drown. So I have to keep all these things in mind to move forward and attain the life I want to live. To remember that life is worth living no matter my environment or my circumstances. Life is worth living.

What do you do when everything goes wrong? Would love to hear your thoughts!

Stay amazing,

Sammy